Since there’s such a lack of opinions, thoughts and general commentary on COVID-life, quarantine and the general bizarro state of the world right now, I figured I’d share my thoughts (😏 if you’re not sensing the sarcasm here, you’re clearly a better human than I am and don’t scroll through angry mom-group-debates on Facebook at midnight!).
But really though. It’s all been said and resaid and said some more. So I’m not going to address the scientific/medical/political facets of this pandemic because, hey, I’m not a doctor or scientist or (thank god) not a politician. I’m just a person who loves people, so that’s what I’m going to write about here.
I love crowds. I’m a person who hates going to an empty restaurant, even if it means we can get a table right away. I like a packed theatre; the communal experience of everyone doing the same thing at the same time gives me comfort and joy. I never minded riding crowded public transportation; smushed up against other people in a subway car; sharing elbow room on a packed flight; the hustle between classes in an overflowing hallway at school- I love and miss it all.
I worry about the carry over of pandemic life to “regular life”, once we get back there (WHICH I KNOW IN MY HEART WE WILL!). Just like depression era- grandparents or parents who immigrated to this country with little or nothing to spare tend to carry over behaviors that helped them during their struggles- like taking extra sugar packets from the deli and storing them at home “just in case”- what strange, anti-social behaviors will carry over from Covid-life? Not wanting to be with people? Constant suspicion and scrutiny of others? Distrust of a nearby sniffle, or clearing of a throat? Paranoia about touching shared objects? Will people really flee cities to live in more rural areas? More hiding behind personal, individualized screens for work, school, entertainment and “socializing”? Anxiety-inducing sanitizing sessions of every damn thing we touch?!
What kind of life is that?
Please don’t misconstrue my yearning for crowds and the communal milk station at Starbucks (remember those? How many missed opportunities for casual “meet cutes” have passed by?- if you’ve seen “The Holiday” with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, you know what I mean! ) as general insensitivity or ignorance to the horrific realities of Covid- if you’ve been following me on Instagram, you may remember that the amazing human that was my father passed away from it himself. I get it. I’m not here to debate the worth of human life over social experiences or the economy or whatever. Because the truth is, one person’s reality and what they value is just that- their reality, their values. Moving on.
Ironically, during this time of “we’re all in this together” (bc every commercial from your local Toyota dealership to your cell phone provider is here to remind you of this, in case you forgot!), it feels like we’re on the brink of toxic individualism. Everyone’s been quarantined in their little bubbles, in our very own corners of the world, watching the same news channels that serve to reinforce our existing viewpoints (team CNN or team FOX NEWS?!)🙄, scrolling Instagram with an algorithm that shows is what we already know and “like”, interacting with the same few people who are, for the most part, family or friends who more than likely look, act and behave pretty similarly to ourselves. The “publicness” of life is missing; the forced beneficial interactions that make everyday life better and more interesting- just being on a crowded train, in a packed school hallway, reaching for the 2% milk pitcher at the Starbucks counter and having a stranger pass it to you without having to “sanitize”🙄 it first, navigating streets teeming with a literal cross-section of humanity- these interactions are constant reminders that i/you/we are NOT the center of the universe, others exist, their realities are valid, and that after all, we are all humans who want and do pretty much the same things. Ugh it hurts my heart so much just thinking about it. I miss it all.
I’ve always been an incurable optimist; that will never change, pandemic or no pandemic. But still, every now and then, questions creep into my mind like “what if people don’t want to go back to being with other people? What if we get too comfortable being 6 feet apart? What if human touch, laughing closely, shared items and communal experiences become taboo or even worse, a thing of the past?” Will people not hug anymore?!
So much UGH.
A thought that I’ve found comforting though is this: humans are social creatures. I believe that we’ll get back to being together eventually because that’s what we’re made to do. It’s what’s moved our society forward since the dawn of time- togetherness. More separation and isolation is the exact opposite of what the world needs right now- we need each other in so many ways. Let’s not forget that moving forward💛